[I,S.I.S prayer:

I give thanks for yesterday, today and tomorrow…..

give thanks for all the love and resources shared not only here in

[dis’ (almost) world wide matrix of the] internet, but in ‘real’ time,

with rebuilding sustainable villages in diverse communities and spaces.

Bless my family, friends, and enemies, and I pray not to have enemies… Bless all our living relatives…

I give thanks for the positive resistance, transformation, and renewal in 2010, and the exciting (not-so) new possibilities of 2011…

Nashukuru Mama Afreeka na dunia, nashukuru orisha…..

[I give thanks for the guidance of our ancestors, give thanks to the orishas… ]

Bless the motherless and fatherless, bless those sick in hospital, Bless those who spread positivity in abundance… Bless our youth, elders, en those who are yet to come, and I pray that we continue to come into our right destinies. I pray for forgiveness…for health, long life, happiness and prosperity not only for myself, but others….. Bless dis earth o…..ase, ase……. ]

As years of (pan) Afreekan renaissance go, werd on the ground, and the love spreading in abundance are clear signs that big tings’ been going on in the past years, en the fiya dis time is in our quest to share resources with folks we love, respekt and admire so, for our cherished collectives….these are the contexts and storyboards of the q_t werd….

(Is) Kenya’s new port the end of lamu’s cultural heritage? http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/69659

Indigenus encounters diaspora hadithi

Pan-afrikan postcards

Of living legends

Na nia yetu

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 Jus one of the many revolushunary organisations that we love, respekt and admire so, the ones that we have grown with en learnt so much from on building communities of (good) practice and the struggle for Afrikan liberation….

http://blog.trustafrica.org/blog.php?/archives/45-Hakima-Abbas-reflects-on-African-philanthropy.html

http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/68376

these are (some of)  the hadithi of the q_t werd [ on the ground]…

the ones that haven’t been published (yet)….

Proposal – Queer African Reader

Project Consultant: Sokari Ekine
Proposed Editors: Sokari Ekine, Hakima Abbas

We are writing to invite you to participate in the publication of an African LGBTI Reader to be published by Pambazuka Press in June 2011. The African LGBTI Reader is being published in response to the increasing homophobia and transphobia across the continent which aims to silence the voices of African Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Intersex people.

The African LGBTI Reader [Working Title] seeks to make a timely intervention by bringing together a collection of writings and artistic works that engage with the struggle for LGBTI liberation and inform sexual orientation and gender variance. The book seeks to engage with primarily an African audience focusing on intersectionality and will include experiences from rural communities, post-conflict situations, religious experience as well that of immigration and displacement.

We are proposing an alternative framework for the book based on a participatory model in which we ask prospective contributors and the broad queer activist community to discuss possible topics to be included that will push analysis and thinking within this distinct and diverse movement across the continent writing from the standpoint of both personal stories and experiences as activists. We feel this is important because of the multi layered issues which exist historically, regionally and politically with regards to sexual orientation and gender variance in Africa as well as the overall struggle for African liberation.

We hope to facilitate the writing of key African LGBTI leaders, activists and thinkers by providing a two week retreat where activists can create the space to reflect, share their ideas and writing, peer review each other’s work, have access to sources and resources provided by prominent academics and the institution. The writing retreat will be fully sponsored and contributors will be provided an honorarium for their writing which will enable them to take the time away from their activities to provide a critically reflective piece.

Possible Topics – not including personal stories, poems, stories

We have identified eight themes which are listed below with a brief summary of each. We are suggesting each of you think about the theme[s] that interest you and suggest specific topics on which you could write or would like to see addressed.

1. WHAT’S IN A LETTER:

We repeatedly use the terms lesbian, gay, bi-sexual transgender and intersex but what do these mean in your own experience, your own community and country? How limiting or inclusive are these labels? Are they appropriate and do they reflect your own experiences? Does the identity cause more problems than the behavior? Does gender variance or gender non-conforming provide a more appropriate entry point for discussion in Africa given silence around all sexualities? How do we organize across definitions? Why should we?

2. RESISTING OPPRESSION – TOWARDS LIBERATION:

What kind of strategies have been used or could be taken up to resist / challenge queer oppression?

Should we be talking about movement-building? What conceptualisations, experiences and visions of movements do we have / should there be?

Should the struggle for LGBTI Rights be framed within a Western construct which sees Rights as instruments and legislation or should the struggle for rights be constructed within a framework of movement building around which the oppressed organise?

How has the reliance on the NGO Industrial complex supported or hindered movement building? If the latter, what possible alternatives are there to organising and fund raising? How can we move towards more collaborative and collective ways of working which support movement building? What kind of strategies have been used or could be taken up to resist / challenge criminalisation and homophobia including that coming from religious institutions and the media? How should we understand and transcend the limits of the NGO-dominated activist space?

3. PINK COLONIALISM AND WESTERN MISSIONARIES:

What are the problematics of internationalising campaigns and how do we work with allies in the West? How do we overcome donor dependence as a movement? Do the donors and bilaterals save us from ourselves? How do we measure victory e.g. in Malawi and Uganda?

4. A CHANGING WORLD: SOUTH AFRICA AND THE BRICS:

Does South Africa have a particular role to play in supporting queer liberation in Africa? Does the shift in global power create opportunity or threat for African queer liberation? What other geo-political factors determine the course for queer liberation?

5. AFRICAN QUEER LIBERATION AND CLASS STRUGGLE:

What are the intersections between the broader social justice movement in Africa and the movement for queer liberation? Why should one care about the other?

6. ARE GAY MEN FEMINISTS?

What political frames are useful in our movement building? While LBT activists have tended towards feminism does it exclude GT men? How do we address patriarchy and sexism in our movements and personal relationships even among women-identified folks? Why do many straight identified African feminists resist taking on queer issues as a feminist issue in Africa?

7.         GOD AND QUEER –

INCOMPATIBLE OR INSEPARABLE IN AFRICA

Does the movement have to come from a secular space? Given that many African queer folks identify as religious how do we overcome fundamentalism?

The US right wing church are using Africa as a battleground for queer bashing – why is this effective?

What of countries with majority Muslim populations or Islamic law for queer liberation?

What is liberation theology today from a queer liberation and broader social justice perspective?

What are our strategies here?

Are there existing experiences of this, and what can we learn from there? What are the conceptual, spiritual and strategic challenges that the concept of liberation theology throws up to religious queers?

8. RECONCILING THE PERSONAL WITH THE POLITICAL:

What particular role has been/can be played by those engaged in activism through the creative arts? What has been/is the personal cost to working as social justice activists often working in relative isolation and in hostile environments? How can we better balance our lives as social justice activists with that of social people and the need to care for ourselves?

Submissions can be any of the following: essays, case studies of lived experiences on any of the suggested themes, personal stories, poems, art work, photography, short stories, short plays.

Submissions are welcome from Africans both on the continent and in the diaspora.

Download the Concept Note here.

http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/Announce/67004

 Blogger’s Notes: On big love, black skin (masque/e/rading under) white masks, and dadas in solidarity

 The good(s): (on) The Q werd

The stories aren’t jus’ about queens & queers & trannies of Afrika(n./ descent)… if we used (jus’) ONE  word to describe The Q werd, it would be LOVE [for  (mama) Afrika, our ancestors, bredrin en sistren, our children, and those yet to be born].

These dedications are (personal, spiritual AND political) intended to question and raise awareness of our Afrikan stories, and invoke knowledge/able responses that will help fill the gaps

[coz as little as we may claim we re/member of our true true stories, we know otherwise…

that if it’s true, it’s not new.

To make it plain….

there are no blanks at this time of our ( very-long ) existence on earth: every space has already been re/filled, history revised en stamped with the blood of many of our people.

dis’ earth mapped out en recalibrated according to the powers that be……

so, then what about the rest of US….are we not living proof of the brilliance of truth ?

Many questions (still) will be explored as the Q werd unfolds…..how do we build solidarity not only within our communities, but with conscious allies? In what ways is our freedom tied to the liberation of all oppressed peoples? Knowing that there is so much that we have lost already, how many more compromises are we willing to make to go on trying to survive off borrowed currencies?

En if it’s up to the people to liberate themselves, then how can you (en I) make (y)our contribution to society more meaningful?

A dada, who I was blessed to meet en work with years ago now, (one of the many goddess womyn that I love, respekt en admire, that has taught me through their critical analysis en practice of big love), posted a message on her face book profile (not-so) recently, that has  been reverberating for moons going on years now….

I’m sick and fucking tired of surviving!

En as I’m getting the shit I need together, to go on to THRIVing, as I’m taking care of my own responsibilities, (en)visioning the United States of Afrika, in our lifetime, en trying to atone for MY own negligence and sins, I dream better every night, knowing that (at the very least) I’m trying, en I’m (slowly) changing, en I’m becoming the woman I want to be, en using my strength in the service of my vision (quotes from another goddess…..Audre Lorde)

so I may not be on the continent, may not be a politician, teacher, filmmaker, I may not be an activist (no more), may not be working (for money) for any N.G.O, but I still have a role to play in working for MY  communities en MY  families, en in re/educating not only myself, but others….

en talk is cheap, but it’s also necessary…all the betta for us to get an over/standing of our journeys and needs…… Like on this blog, we’re looking for super(s)heroes [read/ers: artivists, fundraisers, program volunteers & afrikan stars]….for this epic (series) of ‘The Q werd’ in the pipeline (read: grassroots mobilisation en guerrilla style shooting all through the summer moons)

Take a minute. Think about it…listen to/read some of the hadithi we’re  retelling, en remember the stories we’ve told are the ones we haven’t made up to try to set the world straight. Take any one of these stories, do with them as you will. Re/post it. Forget it. But don’t say in the years to come that you would have lived your life differently if only you heard this story. You’ve heard it now.,,,,

We warn you, we have not just begun, we are using the arts for revolushunary change, planning on putting our actions where our preach-talk is – (steeped) in (pan) Afrika (n. landscapes….holla back en let us know how we can share resources.  Afrika moja! Afrika huru!

Hadithi? Hadithi?

Nilienda Bungoma, Kaimosi, Kimilili, Webuye, kweli nilitembea, nanilistaajabu ya musa,  nipe mji! nitakupatia hadithi…..

The bad is when we are alien to ourselves, and nowhere is it more apparent en (seemingly) entrenched than in our religions…..it is no coincidence that Kenya officially has the most Christian sects in the world, or that many indigenous afrikan religions survived the onslaught of slavery, Christianity & colonialism through syncretism with the ‘big boys’….jesus doesn’t have a copyright on being ‘the Christ’, and devils have been known to masquerade as ‘men of God’

There’s a saying at home, Mkono usioweza kuukata, ubusu……kiss the hand you cannot cut…know what I mean? The truth is I, like many others have been afraid en distracted for so long, procrastinating, backing down, compromising, breaking promises, breaking down….. en I have also been changing. The beauty en hope in losing one’s way is that you know the ‘right’ path when you find it….it’s simple really. Like the bible states somewhere in the palimpsest of our stories….. to I & I be true. So,

This post ain’t about proselytizing, the truth is, it shouldn’t really matter what religion one practises, the bigger point is what we practice en work (at) every day that makes things better for not only ourselves, but for others……

en if we spent more time figuring out how to harness our (people) power and share our resources equitably, then we wouldn’t have to be concerned about the ‘devils’ among us…..why waste any more time with bad symbolisms? Let’s jus’ move forward with the angels en super s/heroes, no?

These words are not my own, the sentiment is in the irony of the second story….

For those readers in Africa, a word of advice from the get-go: enjoy your beer now and wear your mini-skirts often because such joys – if that is what they are to you – might not last long.

Let me explain by introducing my new favourite pastor, Rev. Dr David Githii, head of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA). He argues that Kenyan government buildings harbour many satanic symbols and that Kenya is a country reeling under ‘the great influence of devil worship’.

Four years ago, he was quoted in the East African Standard saying that “the two snakes at the entrance to the Kenyan House of Parliament, the huge Masonic star at the entrance to the High Court, the frogs and tortoise signs in the High Court must be demolished.” Presumably because they are signs of the devil. Nor did his investigations into the insidious nature of Lucifer stop there.

It turns out that Kenya’s national rallying call, Harambee, which means pulling together, is actually a religious invocation: Haree means hail, while Ambe is a Hindu Goddess (ahem, a mere 2 years ago, when in high school, we used to call parties harees, as in ‘we are off to haree at carni’. Little did we suspect that we were deep in the Gujarati). It came into usage in Kenya courtesy of the Indians who built the Kenya-Uganda railway and would chant the phrase as they toiled under the gaze of man-eating lions.

Some of the symbols that have come under suspicion for promoting devilry and general evil include ‘a compass and square on the grilles at the entrance to St. Andrews Church, Masonic coffins on the church’s 30 windows and celestial globes on stairs leading to the main sanctuary.’ (See more here) Other symbols on the chopping board are the old church’s spiral which is a spear on top of a hut.

Rev. Githii’s faction has been opposed by one made up of some of the more prominent business leaders in the congregation who according to the press contend that “the targeted symbols and designs have been in the PCEA churches for more than a century and were simple Scottish internal decor engravings and patterns on stained glass windows with links to Freemasonry but not necessarily satanic.”

This faction, perhaps unknowingly, is clutching to the legacy of the Overseas Presbytery of the Church of Scotland which for almost half a century (until 1956) run the affairs of the church and only relinquished direct control in 1975 when the first African senior minister was installed. The glass stained windows that are the subject of Rev. Githii’s righteous wrath are a tangible connection to the colonial ‘history’ of the church. The faction that supports their maintenance shall eventually lose because it is unknowingly in the path of a historical tsunami.

In the past, I have argued that African Christianity is approaching an epochal break with its European roots. The separation of the moral domain of the Kenyan and of the European is the fundamental moment in decolonisation. It should not be a surprise that it is taking place within the church; an institution built on the possibility of transcendence much more so than any secular decolonisation idea. You are more than the sum of your parts in the church. In a moment you can be made whole: transformed from sinner to believer, from sickness to health and witness the dead brought to life. Whether this is true or not matters less than the extent to which it is believed.

During the brief encounter between the peoples in Kenya with European colonialism, there were periodic attempts to spurn the ‘white man’s ways’. Whether it is the Mau Mau or Lukas Pkech, a young Pokot man who was a follower of Elijah Masinde’s Dini of Msambwa and launched an armed rebellion against the British, religious belief has been ground zero in taking on the European yoke which crucially has been based far more on notions of moral superiority than on the Maxim gun.

The Rev. Githii’s of the world are going much further than Pkech who said ‘don’t listen to this man, he is our enemy. Haven’t we a god? We pray to you Jehovah. Who is Jesus? The wazungu say he is god but how could he be if he died?’ (quoted in Bethwell Ogot’s amazing essay in Mau Mau and Nationhood) Today’s rebels are not merely dissenting against colonialism, which is history anyway, they are remaking a moral house from the foundation up. This necessitates that they strive against the latest notion of European moral superiority: secular humanism. And they are taking this fight to the heart of the enemy.

In May 2005, while in the United States, Reverend Githii severed his denomination’s relationship with the National Capitol Presbytery and the Presbytery of Detroit over their ordaining of practicing homosexuals. He spurned the $300,000 in funding that his church receives from the PCUSA writing, “We find it unfortunate for you to question the inspiration of the Bible as the Word of God. This contradicts the message that the Western missionaries gave to us when our people first heard the gospel from them.”

In 2003, his counterpart in the Anglican Church, Bishop Simon Oketch, was almost beaten up by two Church of England colleagues on a London street. He had infuriated them over his uncompromising opposition to the appointment of the gay American pastor, Rev. Gene Kelly, as Bishop of New Hampshire. The Nigerian Anglicans, the largest congregation in that church followed suit by breaking longstanding links with the mother church in a rejection of its prerogative over them. Homosexuality is only the lightening rod. All manner of progressive civil freedoms will come under attack, most focusing on gender roles and sexuality.

There is irony in this. The western church has allowed the mores of secular society not because of reaching an enlightened understanding but by trying to stay relevant to a largely apathetic western public. Only in those areas where it retains a conservative ‘reactionary’ character has it thrived. The African church, rather than rebelling, seems to be saying: “You the progressives are the ones who are rebels who must be cast out of the house of God.”

This is a message that is gaining resonance in Africa where the church is growing faster than almost any other part of the world outside Mongolia. The explosions of sectarian violence worldwide leaving people in need of belonging and security; the march of democracy, which will reduce the power of the authorities to call the tune; and the proliferation of the means of communication will all combine to shrink the secular space and enlarge that of the believer. The nation, throughout all the countries in Christendom, has been erected on the foundations of the church. It will be no different in Kenya.

That Rev. Githii is willing to take aim at a national symbol such as Harambee is proof that his campaign shall not be limited to dissing the western church. Rather than participate in direct politics, the Kenyan church shall eventually absorb politics into the moral space that it is busy carving. Its strictures on the private will be so much stronger than the ideas that maintain the public sphere, creating an immense pressure – and possibly even violence aimed at unbelievers or the immoral etc. What now only seems to be a campaign for souls will eventually colonise increasingly larger parts of the public sphere.

The fact that the ‘centre’ – the collection of individuals and institutions that define national power – is so ideologically feeble and so dependent on western aid and political ideas will only hasten this process. Like Archbishop Rowan Williams who could only look on in helplessness and surrender as the Nigerians and Kenyans threatened to tear the Anglican Church to pieces over the issue of homosexuality, the Kenyan ruling classes will come to mime the moral positions advocated by the most popular of the churches.

I say enjoy your beers and mini skirts for the moment because they may not be with you in similar form for very long. Already, sectors of the government are taking a harsher line on drinking and other ’sin’ products all in the name of public safety and health. But it will soon become noticeable that as bars begin to close ever earlier, churches will stay open later.

In time, this trend will probably make for an intolerant and constricted social space, but one that will for the first time create the basis of a politics connected to the moral lives of a majority. Through fire and brimstone, laws and regulations that reduce all manner of secular freedoms – that I for one enjoy – a nation shall begin to take shape. Or at least that is what I hope.

 

Blogger’s note: That’s bad enough, but THIS is (an even sadder version of) the bad & ugly.

Another case of us denying kind/dred, eating our own, and desecrating the bones of our ancestors.

Taken from http://www.religionnewsblog.com/5478

Americans Got it All Wrong (read: (this) Afrikan got the crux of IT wrong)

Francis Ayieko. Dec 29, 2003.

Recently, the US State Department released the “2003 Annual report on International Religious Freedom” in which it accused the Kenya Government of “harassing” the Mungiki sect.

Although the report says that the people of East African countries enjoy enormous religious freedom, it criticises Kenya for “frequently harassing and periodically arresting and detaining” members of Mungiki.

[blogger’s note: read – the government also systematically targets activists, community workers, poor people, and freedom fighters under the guise of anti- Mungiki /terror/ism]

While the State Department may have every right to criticize any government that has no respect for the religious freedom of its people, its criticism of Kenya for allegedly harassing members of the outlawed sect is obviously misplaced.

That the report turns a blind eye to the many violent incidents members of the sect have been implicated in reeks of betrayal. Should the Government just watch as Mungiki kill and maim innocent Kenyans?

Since its activities came to light in the 1980s, the sect has been blamed for killing scores of people in Nairobi, Murang’a, Nyeri and Laikipia. In Nakuru, relatives of at least 20 people killed in Nakuru by the sect members are still struggling to come to terms with the loss. Is that what religion advocates?

The State Department’s assessment of religious freedom, especially with regard to its handling of Mungiki, may be weird but it has a precedent in Kenya itself.

Only four months after the Government banned the sect along with 17 other organisations in March last year (after Mungiki members were implicated in the massacre of 28 people in Nairobi’s Kariobangi Estate), the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), released a report which praised some of the Mungiki practices and beliefs as “progressive”.

Titled “Mungiki Movement in Kenya: Religion-Political Analyses”, the report hailed the sect for preaching self-reliance, hard work and independence.

It was very unfortunate that the NCCK, the largest and oldest umbrella body for Kenyan protestants, considered female genital mutilation and tobacco-sniffing as the sect’s only “retrogressive practices”.

Claims by the NCCK official during the launch of the report that Mungiki members had been dismissed and dealt with violently was a very unfortunate move by a religious leader.

But the fact that the US State Department regards Mungiki as one of the religious groups in Kenya is proof of the muddle that religion has turned into. While religion may have played a role in the formation of the sect, observers believe that it is no longer a key characteristic of the group.

It claimed to espouse a return to Kikuyu traditional religion and cultural practices, much like the Tent of the Living God of Ngonya wa Gakonya. But today, its members are free to join any religion.

With its national co-ordinator Ndura Waruinge’s conversion into Christianity a few weeks ago, it should dawn on most sect members that it is time for soul-searching. It appears there is an inner cry in most Mungiki sect members for a religious attachment. This was seen last year when they decided to woo Muslims to become their allies. It failed.

Had it stuck to its initial mission of being a religious group that does not espouse the Western culture without being violent, no one would have bothered the sect. This is because cults and sects are hardly a new idea in Kenya.

The Nomiya group founded by “messiah” Elisha Adet in the 1920s is probably the oldest. But the largest was Dini ya Musambwa of Elijah Masinde. Though Masinde was known for violent brushes with the law between the 1940s and the 1960s, his followers never engaged in the kind of atrocities associated with Mungiki.

The only ugly legacy Masinde, who died in 1987, left for his followers was a deadly religious concoction on which he himself lived.

In Kenya, which is said to have more than 600 registered denominations and several hundred more that are unregistered, cults and sects seem to be a permanent feature. But Mungiki, which is now a group of ruffians, should never be regarded as one of them.

Mr Ayieko is the editor of EndTime News, a monthly Christian newspaper…….

 

en the crux (of the matter) is our solidarity. dadas in solidarity is the ‘dream’ of the Q werd, a coalition group seeded in response to the anti homosexuality bill tabled in Uganda last year…….if we can stop the bill, then we can deliver (more) services to our community, starting with using what we (already) got, the bigger point is we, dear readers, are the ones we’re looking for…..it’s not yet uhuru, but there WILL  be peace for those willing to fight for it……

to be continued…..

 Discography – (some) soundtrack (adaptations) of the Q werd

  1. Asa – 360 degrees, Fire on the Mountain
  2. Ayo – is this supposed to be love
  3. Bob Marley – Buffalo Soldier/Kaya/Zimbabwe
  4. Brenda Fassie – Nakupenda/Vulundlelas/Wedding Song
  5. Hanifah Walidah – Do you mind?
  6. K’naan –Somalia/Take a Minute/ Waving Flag
  7. Lamya – Empires/Lady Borderline
  8. Me’shell Ndegeocello – Beautiful
  9. Nneka – Africans, Beautiful, Changes, Gypsy, Warrior, Love: No longer at Ease trailer
  10. Sade – Soldier of Love/Sweetest Taboo/
  11. Shi Wisdom – just one of those nights
  12. Stella Chiweshe – mbira classics
  13. Weird MC – Riranwo

It’s a question I’ve faced almost all my life, what does ‘our’ being in solidarity mean?  

When I was a pikney, I had many ‘girlfriends’ and the truth is, still, boys felt safer. That is until I hit my teenage years, en became a ‘cute ting’ to be chased, then, I ran the other way….until, I succumbed to the nebulous pressure of ‘fitting in’, got myself one of ‘them’ (aka. a Boyfriend) at 16 (en experimented with a few others) till I came to terms with the reality that I LOVE my brothers, just not ‘that’ way….still, somewhere along the way of (re) discovery, I found that the ones I was actually scared of (rejecting me) the most, were my sistas (that’s my coming out story in 6 lines)

As the years went by, I struggled to find my place in loving communities, to situate my/self in ‘Babylon’, en be the “best that I could be “……a FUNdamental part of that was re-connecting with (my) sistas, en (re) building nurturing relationships with afrikan womyn.  The truth is, those relationships were few, but in between dem, my mama, en other inspirational womyn of colour, I DID reclaim many parts of myself, it was easier for me to love my/self, my ‘rebel’ ways, my dreams, my weaknesses and un/acknowledged strengths, when I could see all of them, en then some, reflected in those around me.

As the years went by, I also settled into ‘activism’ for & with/in queer & Trans communities, en it was within these contexts where I fought many of my battles. Looking back now, I see more clearly the confluence of ‘first-world’ & middle class privilege, and, the marginalisation of afrikan womyn that ultimately left me yearning for ‘much more’…so much so that I eventually went back home, to the continent, for a year (en a moon)

I went back home because I felt that I wasn’t meaningfully involved in the struggle for the liberation of Afrikan peoples, I felt that despite all my community work, my efforts weren’t tangibly contributing to the freedom of my brothers en sistas back at home….I was worried, then, that I might have become complacent en comfortable with the ‘good’ living here in Canada, en I didn’t want to forget all the dreams that I immigrated here with. I went back because I was homesick, the truth is that as much as Tdot is my ‘new’ home, my heart is in (East) Afrika but…I’m in another place, which is here, en the point of this story is to ask for answers that I no longer have, at least not in practice.

You see, at the beginning of last year, as lives tend to (r) evolve, mine came full circle, and I started volunteering with the only registered queer womyn’s organisation in Nairobi (maybe even in the country at the time, I can’t say I know conclusively because this kinda work is understandably mostly under the radar). I felt it was fitting, and the best way I could give back as for all intents and purposes, somewhere along my way, I had become a professional queer (a term that I no longer identify with for personal/political reasons).

At the time I was officially involved with 2 organisations, which jus’ happened to have the same acronyms, en black queer womyn in leadership positions, though they also each had (seemingly) radically different missions.  This is relevant only because THIS is what this post is about, our efforts, sacrifices, failures and successes at working together, for you see, as much as I’m still involved with both of these organisations, I’m not ‘working’ with either.  The truth is, only one of these organisations ever ‘paid’ me, en even the honorariums I received, for 4 months, were way below a living wage…..the bigger point is, my activism wasn’t (technically) sustainable  for 2 years, yet I survived en transformed through  the support, love and good will of (mostly) sistas…..

2009, was definitive as the year that (a few) sistas saved me, en the year that ‘I tried’ to save others en learnt that you can only (start with) save(ing) yourself.  For all my big dreams, I over/reached and lost perspective (all the betta to find the right path, I pray)….but what does getting ‘lost’ mean exactly?

For me, it meant taking on way more than I could handle en breaking promises….. like when I came back here in time for “Pride”,  it was with the purpose of planning and fundraising for THREE  programs to be implemented in Kenya & Uganda. All, but one, of these projects were based on programs that had been running successfully in Canada for many years, and that I had been involved with as a participant and as a support worker…….programs like T.E.A.C.H (Teens Educating and confronting Homophobia) with Planned Parenthood of Toronto  & QYDVP (Queer Youth Digital Video Project) with the Inside Out film festival, and the last program (to be), a womyn’s circle for healing and self recovery, which was the closest to my heart, came from a place of over/standing the need to address the abuse within our lives and work on rebuilding healthy, loving sustainable relationships.

It has been a year since I started working on those programs; yet, today I seem farther away from implementing them than I ever did, because the truth is, that I haven’t been able to put this together all on my own, and despite the support that many have expressed for programs such as this, when it comes down to it, the nitty-gritty of proposal writing and curriculum building and volunteer recruitement and organising fundraisers, well…..to put it simply many more have had their own stuff to sort out…….yet it’s not as simple as ‘too few doing the work’……..the bigger point is that there are many more who’re not only doing what they can, but making huge sacrifices to serve community….the bigger point is also that the ‘few’ of us trying are having trouble finding each other and working together, and that we keep crossing so many lines between the  practise and the preach…..

The best place to start is with me of course, here’s a (seemingly) clear-cut example: a sista lent me money to buy the ticket that got me back to Toronto (in time for Pride)…I ain’t finished paying her  back yet, and in essence, I fucked her over…..that definitely ain’t no kind of feminism but, in my defence, as I decided to stay on in Toronto, and went back to school, I gave much of my time to matters to do with queer/trans rights in East Afrika, because I felt that I had to start from where I was, and that this WAS  the greater good.

And, I focused on raising awareness within communities here because I thought that these were the likeliest places for queer & trans Afrikans to get recognition and the support we sorely need. I focused on utilising grassroots networks because I thought that this was the most revolutionary way for us to build solidarity amongst diverse communities and movements.

 I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but it was definitely safer than trying to do the same in East Afrika, and at least here there were some of the very sistas who’d inspired me to do what I could for queer/trans Afrikan communities in the first place……yet, the reality was that almost everyone was focused on, (rightfully so?) sustaining their lives in Canada and rebuilding communities in dis’ here place.

As the moons went, and the scope of the work I’d laid out for myself became clearer, I dropped one program…..Anti-Oppression 101 workshops (the goal had been to train youth to facilitate workshops challenging homophobia and educating communities about the intersections of our diversity & oppressions) the truth is, I only stopped working on it, after my ‘colleagues’ weren’t willing to help put it together, because, as a couple of the women in leadership positions expressed, there didn’t seem to be any interest for it. That said, every organisation that is part of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya has pointed out the need to re/educate the public & change prevailing social attitudes……

The bigger point though is that through all these how-to’s & what’s, I still didn’t take the biggest lesson, of sustaining activism, to heart, and the truth is, I just don’t know how to sustain it without first actually getting ‘paid’ for it…en herein lies the trickiest part.

It’s (like) a catch 22…I’ve been able to work for 2 years through the support and solidarity of (a few) sistas, yet I cannot continue to work on the issues that I believe must be addressed because there jus’ hasn’t been enough support…….even though I know IT’S there…..numerous conversations with mentors & sistas have affirmed that what I/we are trying to do is necessary…that, as queer/trans womyn of Afrikan descent we know best what our needs are……and that we gotta use whatever resources we got, but……it seems that we ain’t get alot…..and ‘the funders’ will make all the difference for us.

Last year, I gained new perspectives on the unhealthy competition that is fostered for too few resources within civil society…..I saw many different flavours of the shadiness of career activism, and I gotta admit that I burnt out, en let my idealism get the better of me…..now, there’s a phrase that a sista kept drumming into me, years before, that I’m trying to live by…..’this ain’t a free show’…..for me that means that even though I may not use the master’s tools to dismantle the house, I still gotta make sure that I can pay the rent to keep a roof over my head, buy food to keep me going through the days……en be careful about WHO  I let INTO  my house……

Last year was a roller coaster of emotions, trials en lessons in organising within (queer/trans) Afrikan communities. I have been guilty of the sins of self-righteousness, flakiness, mis-directed anger & selfishness. According to some, it’s debatable, whether I should be even commended for trying….but there’s no mistaking that I DID try…..and that I, as many others do, need help in ensuring that my/our energies don’t go to waste, en that I/we don’t burn out from exhaustion, neglect or petty politics.

The truth is, that’s what our terrain (of organising) looks like…. conflicted, contested & dominated by the women that ‘have most’.  I have worked directly with only a very small number of sistas….en, judging by my experiences in just the TWO organisations that I’m involved with, we seem to be our own biggest enemy at times…..in one organisation, I/we have to battle class politics & conservative agendas….in the other organisation, I/we have to battle with staying true to our mission & sustaining our lives while remaining grassroots. In both of those organisations, there are womyn that I love, respect and admire for all the efforts and sacrifices they’ve made to not only keep the organisations alive but ensure that they thrive……but…….particularly within these organisations, there is a schism between how things are presented  and how agendas are determined.

And outside of these organisations, there are the many other sistas who I’ve shared with…who empathise, and wanna do something…but……..when it comes down to it…..even my ‘partner’ can’t seem to offer much more than ‘moral’ support….because… she got her own shit to take care of……..en, in Babylon, we ain’t really taught to be our sister’s keeper, let alone our brother’s…..but isn’t that the only way we can continue? Does it really come down to the American World Jewish Service, Astraea, Ford Foundation, HIVOS , Mama Cash or the growing litany of funders?

Then again, there’s always the few stars, a few sistas who not only hear you, but tell you that what you want is (not) exactly what they want, but they’ve been looking for you for as long as you’ve been looking for them, those who share everything that they can, en promise that somehow you’re going to figure this ish out, together….by any means necessary 🙂 sometimes it really only jus takes ONE  person, and many times even a few people is not enough

This ain’t no ‘po-is-me/us’ story…….en there ain’t no ending either…….it’s jus what I said it was, questions…..about how to work on our own unity first….and how exactly to build this solidarity? I, for one, need all the guidance I can get

I share this because, as Audre Lorde said, our silence will not protect us.

And, I, for one, intend on not just surviving, but thriving, and the only way I can do that is to speak MY  truth……..about the joys of sistahood, and the pain of betrayal….

this ain’t ‘preaching’ or ‘best practices’…but ‘sharing’ my journey so that I/we can continue to grow…..and continue finding the answers that I/we need.

To be continued……

The Second Feminist Leadership and Movement Building Institute
East Africa
10 – 15 April 2010
Kampala, Uganda

Applications are due on or before 12 February 2010.

You can visit www.creaworld.org  for brochure and application form.

The  Second Feminist Leadership and Movement Building Institute is a week-long course designed  to strengthen feminist leadership, strategies and collective power for social transformation in Africa. The Institute which will take place in Kampala, Uganda from 10 – 15 April 2010, and is the second institute convened by CREA and Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA). The first institute took place in Entebbe, Uganda in 2008.
 

About the Institute
The institute will combine reflection on the current political landscape as well as past organizing strategies for women’s rights in Africa by using a trans-movement building approach. Looking at diverse movements in Africa and globally, participants will be able to relate some of the experiences and lessons from these movements to their own contexts, countries, and regions.
The movement building approach challenges groups to critically assess how they have organized themselves to achieve their social justice goals.  In particular it enables participants to explore their political agenda, involvement of constituents and strategies for collective action underpinned by reflection. 

Using a movement building lens, the process will allow participants to build their knowledge on the theoretical underpinnings of movement building synthesized from analyses of global movements.  Additionally, participants will identify the different intersections, interactions, common spaces and challenges that social movements encounter when collaborating on issues of women’s human rights. From this, they will critically assess pre-existing resources of the women’s movement in Africa and identify and explore concrete strategies to strengthen links between movements to advance women’s human rights more collectively.  The institute will cover the following topics:

Social Movements and Power: Concepts and Theory
Movements, Organisations and Leadership
Introduction to Women’s Rights and Feminist Movements in Africa
Assessing our impact: Approaches and Tools

The institute will foreground reflection at the personal and institutional level that will both enable and challenge participants to strengthen their leadership skills and strategies to effect real change for women’s rights and social justice in Africa. 
Activists and academics from the global South will teach the course using classroom instruction, group work, case studies, simulation exercises and films. Resource persons will include Srilatha Batliwala (India) and African feminists such as Solome Kimbugwe (Uganda) and Zaynab El Sawi (Sudan) among others.
 

Participants

 

To participate you must:
Be a woman between 25 and 45 years of age;
Reside or work in East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Somalia, Somaliland, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Burundi and Rwanda);
Have a minimum of 3 years experience working on gender issues, women’s rights, development and/or youth activism (voluntary or employment);
Be able to demonstrate how you will use what you learn at the Institute in your work and how you will continue to participate in follow-up activities;
Have a working knowledge of the English language and/or be bilingual if French speaking.
 

Cost
Tuition, accommodation and meals for the duration of the Institute will be covered by the organizers. Participants will be required to pay a registration fee of US$50. Participants must cover their own travel expenses. A limited number of travel scholarships are available on a need basis.
 

Organizers

CREA (Creating Resources for Empowerment in Action) is a feminist human rights organization based in New Delhi, India, and led by women from the global South. CREA promotes, protects, and advances women’s human rights and the sexual rights of all people by building leadership capacities; strengthening organizations and social movements; creating new information, knowledge, and resources; and influencing social and policy environments. CREA envisions a just world, free of poverty, violence, discrimination, and inequality, where the human rights of all people–especially women, young people, and sexual minorities―are realized.

Based in Uganda, Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA) is a Pan-African International Development NGO providing solidarity, support, awareness and training to African women in order to influence policy and decision-making.  AMwA also provides a research forum on African women’s issues and actively supports movement building in Africa.  AMwA also co-ordinates an African Women’s Leadership Institute (AWLI) that provides training for African Women aged 25-45 years in critical strategic thinking on feminist praxis and analysis at personal, organizational and movement levels. The goal of the AWLI is to encourage and train significant numbers of young women for leadership positions that will ultimately promote a progressive African women’s development agenda.  In addition to the AWLI, AMwA provides strategic and programmatic support to members of the AWLI alumni network.
Applications are due on or before 12 February 2010. Applications received after the due date will not be considered. Please send your applications to Sushma Luthra at sluthra@creaworld.org or fax to +91 11 2437 7708.

blogger’s note: I’ll see you there, inshallah(t).  🙂

to learn how to give love and to let it come in.

 in the spirit of love en resistance,

here’s another gift (yes yes y’all! tis’ the giving season)

more s/heroes waxing LIBERATORY  about  OUR  stories.

iS.I.S: you are beautiful

 

now sit down David Bahati, sit down parliament of Uganda,

(all homophobes line up here)

and just SHUT UP  en listen!

 

the most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love….